Graham J. Ingels (June 7, 1915 – April 4, 1991) was a comic book and magazine illustrator best known for his work in EC Comics during the 1950s, notably on The Haunt of Fear and Tales from the Crypt, horror titles written and edited by Al Feldstein, and The Vault of Horror, written and edited by Feldstein and Johnny Craig. Ingels’ flair for horror led EC to promote him as Ghastly Graham Ingels, and he began signing his work “Ghastly” in 1952.
Born in Cincinnati, Ingels began working at age 14 after the death of his father. Graham was 16 when he entered the art field drawing theater displays. He studied at New York’s Hawthorne School of Art. He started as a freelancer aged 20 and worked on pulp magazines and comic books.
In 1948, Ingels was hired by Al Feldstein, the editor of EC Comics, to provide artwork for their Western and romance comics. When EC introduced Tales From the Crypt, The Vault of Horror and The Haunt of Fear, it soon became apparent that Ingels was an ideal choice as an illustrator of horror.
Ingels’ unique and expressive style was well-suited for the atmospheric depiction of horrors amid crumbling mansions in hellish landscapes populated by twisted characters, grotesque creatures and living corpses with rotting flesh. A trademark image was a character with a thread of saliva visible in a horrified open mouth.
As the lead artist for The Haunt of Fear, he brought to life the Old Witch, horror host of “The Witch’s Cauldron” lead story, and he also did the cover for each issue from issue 11 through 28. A prolific artist, Ingels also drew the Old Witch’s appearances in Tales From the Crypt and The Vault of Horror, plus stories for Shock SuspenStories and Crime SuspenStories. The Old Witch’s origin story was told in “A Little Stranger” (The Haunt of Fear #14).
Because of his many “Witch’s Cauldron” stories, he was strongly identified with the character of the Old Witch, an association that continues until the present day. Ingels’ artwork on the eight-page lead stories, and his splash pages, particularly on issues #14 and 17, set a new standard for horror illustration that have rarely been equaled. “Poetic Justice” in the 12th issue, was adapted for the 1972 Tales from the Crypt film from Amicus studios in England, with Peter Cushing as the kindly old junk collector, and Ingels’ “Wish You Were Here” (The Haunt of Fear #22) was also adapted.
After EC ceased publication in the mid-1950s due to censorship pressure, Ingels contributed to Classics Illustrated but otherwise found little work. Ingels took a teaching position in Connecticut and became later an art instructor in Florida, refusing to acknowledge his work in horror comics until a few years before he died.
“Horror We? How’s Bayou?” in The Haunt of Fear issue #17 is considered by many EC’s best illustrated horror story ever and perhaps the best by anyone in any era.
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